There is much talk of mindfulness today, an energizing, freeing state where you listen only to the quiet that is around you, blocking out negative thoughts, past or future concerns. Being in the moment in a non-judgmental way allows us to release the daily stress, but it does not come easily to many of us. The pursuit of a mindful life takes time and thought and planning. I have learned much on my personal journey toward living a life that is both vibrant and peaceful. The busyness and clatter of Western culture has been at odds with this compelling state of calm. However, the Eastern sensitivity to meditation is flowing into our collective spirits.
By studying the architecture and interior design of some of the great hotels, spas and retreats, we can see what details help us capture the spirit of mindfulness. On a unique level, Phulay Bay Reserve is a heavenly haven for tuning out the noise of the world and laying the foundation for a healthy, thoughtful lifestyle. The Reserve is located on the west coast of southern Thailand, along the coast of the Andaman Sea with magnificent views of a rugged coastline, shimmering beaches, clear blue water and exotic islands. It is paradise personified. A visit to Phulay Bay engenders an immediate intake of breath as one gazes wide eyed at the surroundings of the lush tropical vegetation meeting the turquoise blue sea. All stunningly beautiful. But it is the architecture that is overwhelmingly brilliant as it partners with nature. It was created by Thai architect Lek Bunnag, who worked with shapes and structures taken from Thailand, Morocco and the Middle East. We are immersed in a labyrinth of oversized openings, beamed verandahs and open-air areas that become the framework that brings the vastness of scenery into perspective.
The suites are designed purely around calming the mind and nourishing the soul. As is the Thai custom, sandals are removed before entering the pristine space defined by cloud-white textured surfaces and rounded shapes accentuated with oversized bolsters. Layers of pillows and top-quality bedlinens promise a luxurious and restful sleep. The substantial marble bathtubs, (there were two in my room), and walls of large mirrors produce an endless view of your surroundings inside and out.
The exhilarating sense of peace and energy left me determined to take a little of Phulay Bay Reserve home with me. It can be as simple as candles around the bathroom or decorating a room with a rich dark wood and an abundance of delicious white fabrics. Try one oversized piece of furniture that adds drama to a small space, or a private corner set up with favourite cushions where a few minutes can be taken daily to close your eyes and just be.
Outside, frame a section that has a water feature or garden. Set up appealing seating constructed with materials that are beautiful to look at and to touch. Think about other options for framing, such as stringing a hammock between two trees or hanging a swing on a sturdy branch. The setting is guaranteed to draw you in. The object is to tune your home, or a part of your home, to the music of your heart. Once you have found a setting that is conducive, the quiet will follow to experience your own mindfulness.
Gather inspiration at ritzcarlton.com/en/hotels/phulay-bay and then create your own retreat geared to a mind at peace.
Written by Debbie Travis and Barbara Dingle. Email decorating questions to email@example.com. Follow Debbie at instagram.com/debbie_travis and debbietravis.com